The U.S. Department of Agriculture once used the land in Virginia where the Pentagon now stands to grow hemp, a close cousin of the cannabis sativa plant that produces marijuana, the Washington Post reported May 13.
Recently discovered documents show that botanist Lyster H. Dewey used government land known as Arlington Farms to grow exotic varieties of hemp in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A group called the Hemp Industries Association is using Dewey’s diaries — found at a yard sale near Buffalo, N.Y. — to support their campaign to legalize industrial use of hemp, which was banned along with marijuana in the 1930s.
The history of Dewey’s hemp farm is particularly poignant for David Bronner, an entrepreneur who developed a successful line of hemp-based soaps and has battled the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over its ban on hemp-based foods. Last October, Bronner was arrested for planting hemp seeds on the lawn at DEA headquarters, and he payed $4,000 to buy Dewey’s diaries on behalf of the hemp association.
“It’s kind of ironic that we dug up DEA’s lawn to plant hemp seeds and highlight the absurdity of the drug war, but you take it back 50 years and that’s what the government itself was doing,” said Bronner.